Albany Legislature, Sheriff Create ‘Albany County’s Future Heroes and First Responders Explorer Program’

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Credit: Tamara Starr

Today, Albany County Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce, Legislators Joseph O'Brien, Nathan Brusch, and Sheriff Craig Apple joined local fire and EMS officials to announce an expansion of their current Explorer Program. The Albany County’s Future Heroes and First Responders Explorer Program will be a county-wide initiative to help engage youth in first responder training and provide opportunities for leadership experience and career exploration.

“In recognition of the role these programs play in helping introduce this career path to our youth, I’m thrilled that we can help local fire and EMS departments offset some of the costs associated with operating an explorer program,” Chairman Joyce said. “At the same time, we are offering youth an opportunity to begin a career in public service, character education, community service, and critical life skills. These explorers are going to become the new heroes of tomorrow.”

According to officials, there will be a $15,000 investment from the Legislature to ensure that Fire and EMS explorer programs in the County can recruit, transport, and train future first responders.

“The explorer program provides classroom and hands-on experience for young men and women to understand what it is like to be a first responder,” Legislator O’Brien said. “West Albany and Shaker Road Fire Departments have a long history in Albany County in providing this program, and this funding will help provide the necessary resources to make it county-wide. The explorer program is essential in helping local municipalities in their efforts to hire new first responders.”

Legislator Bruschi was an Eagle Scout and believed that the mentorship and skills-building opportunities he experienced were being implemented in Colonie's Fire and EMS program.

“The investment that my colleagues and I are making by founding this new County-wide Public Safety Explorer Program will pay dividends to Albany's youth who can use it as a pathway to find their career calling and for our residents who will inherit a safer county,” Legislator Bruschi said.

“This is a great opportunity to expand our existing Explorer Program with added resources, and we will be able to give other youth public safety experience firsthand,” Sheriff Craig Apple said.

The Shaker Road – Loudonville Fire Department has sponsored the Explorer Post 475 since 1975. The program offers young men and women ages 14-17 with team building and leadership development program. Officials believe these skills and opportunities can assist with career advancement and helps them "become productive members of society and a positive influence among their peers."

“The post members provide countless hours of community service at the fire department, including responding to emergency calls and assisting active-duty firefighters,” Steve DeGroff, Explorer Post Advisor, said. “Many post members go on to become active volunteer firefighters and pursue a career in the emergency services field.”

The West Albany Fire Department began Explorer Post 0458 in 2001 and has seen more than 50 kids complete the program, with ten who later became firefighters, EMTs, or paramedics.

“The West Albany Fire Department Explorer Post 0458 cares about all the youth in our community. For years, we have welcomed them as if they were our own and have helped countless youths pursue positive choices and opportunities so they can thrive into adulthood,” Louise Sullivan, Chair and Lead Advisor of Explorer Post 0458, said.

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